June 19, 2019

Letters to the Editor: A Call for Jewish Unity,  Outrage Over Lecture, Zaglembie Memorial

A Call for Jewish Unity
As a people, we Jews are not unified. Politically, we’re divided into two camps, with roughly 70% liberal and 30% conservative. In general, liberals detest President Donald Trump and conservatives admire him. These differences broadly follow along the lines of religious observance, with Reform or secular Jews more liberal and Orthodox Jews more conservative. Both sides have lost respect for each other and rarely engage in meaningful dialogue. This has led to a fractured Jewish community in which we are more like rivals than brothers and sisters. 

According to Torah, we are all one family, descendants of our forefather Jacob. We are to love and care for one another regardless of our differences. We know from history that HaShem (God) will leave our midst if we dismiss his commandments and show animosity toward our fellow Jews. This occurred before the Roman destruction of Jerusalem some 2,000 years ago. 

As HaShem’s Chosen People, we must set aside our differences, engage in civil discourse and demonstrate goodwill toward one another. The adage “united we stand, divided we fall” is as true today as ever before. Our love and respect for one another will usher in a time of blessing for all Jews and make us far less vulnerable to outside threats and intimidation. 

To quote Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, “… remember God chose us as a people and it is as a people that we come before God and before the world. The Sages said …, ‘Great is peace, because even if Israel is worshipping idols and there is peace among them, God will never allow harm to happen to them.’ Go think about that.” The time for Jewish unity is now.
Michael S. Ginsburg, via email

Outrage Over Lecture
What is wrong with the administration of UCLA that allows an anti-Semitic, anti-Israel professor from San Francisco State University, who is Arab and Muslim, rant in front of an anthropology class? (UCLA Guest Lecturer Calls Zionists White Supremacists,” May 24). Rabab Abdulhadi called Zionists and pro-Israel students and Jewish students “white supremacists.”

There is nothing wrong with offering a different viewpoint regarding the Israeli-Palestinian imbroglio. However, in a classroom in front of an anthropology class to viciously attack groups of people with virulent hatred is not educational.

UCLA should let this miscreant pay for her own bus ticket back to San Francisco.
Richard N. Friedman, via email

Zaglembie Memorial
Thank you for your article about the Zaglembie memorial (“Honoring the Zaglembie Memorial in Mevo Modi’im,” May 31). When my cousin Avraham Green founded the World Zaglembie Organization to memorialize the Zaglembie Jewish communities, he wisely determined to minimize the use of metal, wood and paper products at their sites. This will facilitate the rehabilitation of the memorial in Israel, even after the terrible fires.

The organization also erected stone memorials at the sites of all the ghettos and Jewish cemeteries in Zaglembie as well as other Jewish sites. They are in good condition, and their information is easily read. In other areas in Poland, such as at the Gliwice concentration camp, brass engravings used to mark such sites have been stolen and not replaced.
Norman H. Green, Los Angeles

Story Clarifications
I read in your story on Hershey Felder’s Claude Debussy show that the Nazi regime banned Debussy’s compositions from being performed (“Felder Channels Debussy in New One-Man Show,” May 24).

I was skeptical of this as Debussy is considered to be one of France’s greatest composers (along with Hector Berlioz). I checked the performance history of Debussy’s only opera, “Pelléas et Mélisande.” I saw that in 1942, under German occupation, there was a revival with a new production of “Pelléas et Mélisande” at the Opéra-Comique in Paris. Undoubtedly German soldiers and officials would have had the opportunity to attend performances of “Pelléas.” This revival was successful and “Pelléas et Mélisande” remains in the repertory. LA Opera will do it again next season in a new production.

On to another matter. I am an admirer of the late Herman Wouk, who was blessed to have a long and productive life. May the author of “This Is My God,” “The Caine Mutiny,” and “War and Remembrance” and others, rest in peace.

However, it was incorrect in the Journal’s obituary to state that Wouk was survived by two sons. One son is a transgender woman by the name of Iolanthe Woulff, who is a writer. She ought not to be cast in any kind of shadows, especially upon the death of her father.
Murray Aronson, West Hollywood

‘Self-Hating Jews’ and Anti-Semitism
A couple of months ago, I read an article in a Jewish publication by someone who complained that they really resented being labeled “a self-hating Jew” just because they had written articles critical of Israel and its treatment of Palestinians. I was drawn to the article because I, too, am critical of Jews who publicly criticize Israel and its issues with Palestinians.

To my surprise, I found the article and its author’s rationale to be quite compelling. Specifically, the writer disputed the “self-hating Jew” label by explaining, despite their public criticism of Israel, they observed the Sabbath, kept kosher, attended shul on a relatively regular basis, and sent their kids to Jewish day schools. I also agreed with the author that perhaps the “self-hating Jew” label was an inaccurate description of the writer and other Jews that publicly criticize Israel and its interactions with the Palestinians.

Yet, I was troubled because I still strongly felt that Jews who publicly deride Israel’s dealings with Palestinians do great damage to other Jews in their community and worldwide.  Intellectually, I needed another label for Jews who are not literally self-hating but contribute to others’ open disdain for Israel, Zionism and Jews in general.  And then it hit me. Those Jews who join with non-Jews in their public criticism of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians are perhaps, not “self-hating Jews” but, despite their good intentions, may actually be enablers of anti-Semitism.
Stu Bernstein, Santa Monica

A Poem for Our Times
This poem was written during a long discussion at a Temple Adat Elohim board of directors meeting in the Conejo Valley. I know that many congregations are dealing with the same issues.
Creating Safety
by Suzanne Gallant

A very long meeting
Lots of voices raised
Lots of worries expressed
Lots of concern on faces
Just because,
Because hate is reigning
Because our culture today
Encourages, aids and abets
Haters, anti-Semites, racists.
Have created a culture
That encourages acts of violence.
A culture that permits crazy
Haters to buy automatic weapons
And lots of ammunition
Which they turn into mass murder.
In our synagogue fear reigns.
This meeting to discuss security.
So much money is needed.
So much fear engendered
We must fortify ourselves
To make our congregants safe.
What has our world come to,
That makes us afraid?
What can we do,
To turn this around
And make everyone safe?
What can we do?
Each and every one of us,
To change this culture
To make our communities,
Our States and our Country
Live together in unity?


Now it’s your turn. Submit your letter to the editor. Letters should be no more than
200 words and must include a valid name and city. The Journal reserves the right to edit all letters. letters@jewishjournal.com.